Marijuana becomes legal in Maine

Marijuana becomes legal in Maine
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Maine on Monday became the eighth state in the nation to allow adults over the age of 21 to possess and consume marijuana for recreational purposes.

Maine joins six Western states and neighboring Massachusetts in allowing recreational pot, after voters narrowly passed a ballot measure in November. Adults will be allowed to possess up to two and a half ounces of marijuana and to grow up to 18 plants at home.

“Responsible adult marijuana consumers will no longer be harassed and treated like criminals,” said David Boyer, who ran the campaign to legalize pot last year. “Police will be able to spend more time addressing serious crimes rather than punishing adults for using a substance that is safer than alcohol.”

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As in other states that have legalized pot for recreational use, Mainers will not be allowed to smoke in public. And state legislators are only beginning the long process of setting up regulations that will lead to legal pot shops by February 2018. At the moment, it remains illegal to sell or buy marijuana.

Maine voters approved legal marijuana by the smallest margin of any of the four states where it passed in 2016, just a few thousand votes out of nearly 800,000 cast. Opponents requested a recount, though that process did not alter the outcome.

Even as the measure takes effect, the legislature is fine-tuning the program. Gov. Paul LePage (R) on Friday signed a bill that closed a loophole that would have permitted those under 21 from possessing marijuana.

New taxes on marijuana products are expected to begin generating revenue for the cash-strapped state in short order. Maine’s Office of Fiscal and Program Review estimated marijuana products would generate $2.8 million in fiscal 2017–2018 and more than $10 million in subsequent years.